Considering Life-History Variation in Salmonid Restoration
Session Coordinator: John Carlos Garza, PhD, UC Santa Cruz and NOAA Fisheries
Salmonid fishes are characterized by high levels of variation in life-history traits related to migration and reproduction. In some cases, the variation is so great that fish with alternate strategies even have different names, such as steelhead/rainbow trout, spring-run/fall-run salmon, sockeye/kokanee. In California, salmon and steelhead display a full array of variation in such life-history traits including the presence, location, age and timing of migratory behaviors, and related variation in reproductive behavior. Much of this variation has a genetic basis, so may not be very flexible and is also subject to selection. Restoration projects often alter habitat conditions in ways that change the availability or quality of resources available to fish on a temporal or spatial basis, with potentially profound consequences for fitness of associated salmon and steelhead populations.
Understanding how life-history variation of salmon and steelhead is coupled with habitat use and how specific changes in the physical and biological habitat can affect salmonid populations is a key to implementing successful restoration projects.
This session will bring together biologists studying the patterns and underlying bases of life-history variation in salmon and steelhead, restoration practitioners working on projects that consider this variation and policy makers that plan, prioritize and permit such projects. The session goal is to highlight the importance of explictly considering variation in migratory and reproductive traits in salmonid restoration projects.